(From the Moscow Times)
The party of Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych was on course Monday to secure a parliamentary majority, but international monitors said flaws in the conduct of the election meant the country had taken a “step backwards.”
Exit polls and first results from Sunday’s vote showed that with help from longtime allies, Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions would win more than half the seats in the 450-member assembly after boosting public sector wages and welfare handouts to win over disillusioned voters in its traditional power bases.
The ruling party will face a revitalized opposition boosted by resurgent nationalists and a liberal party led by boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko.
But a team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which sent more than 600 observers to monitor the election, criticized the way it had been conducted.
“The elections were characterized by the lack of a level playing field caused primarily by the abuse of administrative resources, lack of transparency of campaign and party financing and lack of balanced media coverage,” the OSCE mission said in a statement.